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The estate: a parable: an allegorical look at how on-the-ground forestry might mature from once-upon-a-time to a bright tomorrow.

The Estate is a forested area of 50,000 acres. In the 1950s its owner, O.M. ("Old Man") Schmidt, hired a consulting forestry firm, Timber Services Inc. (TSI), and requested that it place his Estate under the management of professional foresters. Before this, Mr. Schmidt had done little more than protect his Estate from wildfire, build a few primitive roads, and develop a series of trails to a lookout tower or two. Mostly the forest was little used, even by local residents, because of its remoteness and the lack of access roads.

After surveying the area and determining what Schmidt wanted from it, TSI developed a plan for managing the Estate's timber. The plan was designed to accommodate many uses besides the production of timber and was to restrict cutting to what could be reforested by TSI. Because of the species, the age of the stands (200-plus years), the existence of a nearby sawmill, and a community that needed lumber for growth and development, TSI established 100 years as a proper rotation age (the number of years it takes to grow trees large enough to produce the desired product-in this case sawlogs).

The objective was to practice even-age management (all trees in a stand the same age) for sawtimber production and regeneration. Mr. Schmidt agreed to this objective. So Timber Services Inc. began the 100-year journey of placing the entire forest "under management. "

Timber Services Inc. initiated an annual harvesting cycle of one percent of the Estate (500 acres) to accomplish the objective. TSI built access roads and, after each 500 acres was harvested, reforested the land with the appropriate timber species.

As O.M. and the nearby town started using the new roads to visit the forest, they began to notice and comment on the timber-management practices. So TSI refined its management to match the growing concern for wildfife, aesthetics, water quality, and erosion. The firm hired professionals in these various disciplines to help the foresters design and carry out quality management through increased integration of consideration for other resources. This addition of specialists, including silviculturists and logging engineers, created a more diversified workforce and a wider perspective that included social, cultural, and environmental values.

For 40 years everything went relatively well. However, continuing to produce timber on an annual basis became increasingly complex as the growing concern for an of the forest's natural resources was integrated into the harvest projects.

Then one day O.M. Schmidt died and his young step-nephew from Australia, Hiram Schmidt III, inherited the Estate.

From day one, Hiram and the current management team for Timber Services Inc. didn't hit it off. Seems Hiram just didn't like what he saw when he visited the forest. Also, he was concerned about such contemporary issues as global warming, old-growth, endangered species, and other environmental matters. He tried to express his personal wants for the Estate, and TSI tried to accommodate his wishes within the broad framework of continued timber management. Finally, inevitably, they reached an impasse.

Hiram felt that trees and forests were special. He didn't like to see them cut-especially to make roads. Nor did he like it when large, old trees were harvested, or when clearcuts were used. TSI spent a lot of time and money educating Hiram about the scientific and technical aspects of timber management, or forestry, as the firm usually called it. TSI made sure that Hiram knew that the trees were being harvested to produce wood and paper, and that timber sales created jobs for the townspeople.

Hiram stated clearly that he understood all that, but he still wanted TSI to stop the timber program. Instead, he wanted TSI to manage the Estate to produce the things he wanted from it. He understood that for 40 years TSI had managed for what O.M. Schmidt (and the town) had wanted from the land-revenue for Mr. Schmidt, wood fiber for building homes, and an economic base for the town itself.

After 40 years of timber management, TSI had built access roads to 60 percent of the Estate and cut 40 percent of it. True, TSI had aggressively and successfully reforested the cutover areas with the appropriate species. However, Hiram simply didn't like what he saw when he went into the forest.

He realized that if the timber program were continued on its present course, the Estate would have no trees -or at least stands of trees-over 100 years old. Those that remained would be only those that were good timber trees. Other species would be eliminated because they "wasted" some of the land's timber productivity.

Hiram said he wanted large uncut stands of old trees on the Estate just because he felt good when he visited them. He wanted trees just because they were pretty," "had character," produced flowers in the spring, or were used by wildlife. In short, he wanted different things from what his Uncle O.M. had wanted.

Hiram admitted that TSI had managed for 40 years in a sound scientific and technical manner to produce wood fiber, and they had done it well. He knew that what they had practiced for 40 years was both good forestry and proper timber management. And he still wanted TSI to manage the Estate and to practice good forestry. However, he wanted TSI to use its professional skills, including silviculture, to produce forest products other than wood fiber. Timber sales would still be OK, but they should be done to accomplish other resource goals. The timber produced was to be a byproduct of management, not its primary goal.

TSI was upset by this change in direction. The firm perceived timber management and forestry as synonymous, and saw the production of wood fiber as the logical output from commercial timber lands. It was OK to integrate other resource considerations into the harvest plans, but timber should be the primary product from the Estate to meet society's need for wood and paper. Wood fiber would be a "cash crop" and dollars the final forest product returned to the landowner.

Hiram stated that he was aware of the revenue implications of dropping timber management. He was simply not prepared to exchange money for the things he wanted from the forest. The demand for wood and paper by society would have to be met from other sources if some accommodation could not be made to meet his personal wants and needs.

TSI approached its lawyers and asked what the firm could do in the face of these "unreasonable" demands from Hiram. After all, he was new, had different values, and obviously did not understand that scientific, technical timber management should be allowed to continue. Timber management, after all, was the "right thing" to do.

TSI's attorneys did some research and reported back to TSI's chief executive officer. In a textbook titled The Practice of Silviculture (1962) by David M. Smith, associate professor of silviculture at Yale University, they found the following statements:

"Silviculture is normally directed at the creation and maintenance of the kind of forest that will best fulfill the objectives of the owner. Returns from silviculture are generally thought of in terms of timber production, although it is not uncommon for owners to have other goals. The growing of wood may, in fact, have low priority among these objectives or none at all. The essential thing is that the objectives should be clearly defined and treatment shaped to their attainment."

"The duties of the forester with respect to silviculture are to analyze the natural and economic factors bearing on each stand-and then to devise and conduct treatments most appropriate to the objective of management."

"The forester should work for the good of the forest as an entity, not for the sake of the forest itself, but to ensure that it will remain a permanently productive source of goods and benefits to the owner and to society."

"In this book greatest emphasis is placed upon the production of wood crops because this is the most common objective . . ."

TSI's attorneys concluded:

* Forestry, silviculture, and timber management-though related-are not the same.

* Forestry is the profession of managing forests to achieve the stated objectives of the landowner.

* Silviculture is the art and science of growing trees to achieve various landowner objectives.

* Timber management (wood-fiber production) may be an objective desired by a landowner; then again, it may not.

The attorneys also concluded that forestry schools produce foresters with a "timber bias"-that is, they often can't see the forests for the timber. This timber bias occurs because the production of wood is such a common objective of landowners. It is a common goal because of the demand for wood and paper and because of the economic aspects of forest ownership. That is, timber management offers the best chance for positive monetary returns to the owner to cover or offset the costs of ownership.

Timber management, however, creates inherent controversy because what the timber industry perceives as a source of raw material is also the stuff about which poems are written. People do feel that trees and forests are special.

The attorneys further concluded that Hiram's objectives for his estate are within the realm of forestry and can be achieved through silvicultural practices. Also, it is obviously well within Hiram's prerogatives as landowner to establish those objectives. As owner, he can demand that TSI change its management objectives and practices.

TSI on the other hand, as managers of long standing, mistakenly assumed that they own the place. TSI then concluded that since timber management is good forestry and since the firm knows best, it can insist on going forward with the original management objectives as established by O.M. Schmidt.

The attorneys' advised the CEO that if TSI wanted to continue managing the Estate, it would have to develop a new perspective. The attorneys had one specific recommendation:

Immediate recognition by TSI that Hiram is indeed the owner of the Estate. As such, he is exercising his rights in establishing the objectives for management of his property.

After receiving this counsel, the CEO reexamined the mission and policies under which TSI managed the Estate. He communicated these points to the company's employees and to Hiram:

* Forestry: In recognition that timber management is only one of the services TSI provides its clients, TSI would change its name to Forest Resources Inc. (FRI).

* Management: Portions of the Estate could still be managed for timber, but the classic management practices used in the past would be changed to achieve other objectives besides the production of wood fiber. Timber production would be dropped as a primary objective in other portions of the Estate, opening the door for a whole new management perspective for those areas.

* Timber Sales: The objectives of timber sales will now be more varied.

* Estate Resource Plan: A new plan will be developed to identify the landowner's objectives and guidelines for implementation.

* Project Planning Process: A written decision-making process will be created, modeled after the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. As with NEPA, the focus will be on environmental consequences, action alternatives, interdisciplinary approaches, and public participation.

* Public Participation: TSI recognizes that it did not keep pace with the changing values of the public and its own workforce. Hiram is not the only one whose values are different from those of O.M. Schmidt. Others in town and within TSI have been vocal in expressing their concerns. Forest Resources Inc. will invite more public participation in its management decisions and setting of objectives.

* Public Education: The general public often assumes that clearcut means permanent deforestation. To improve understanding of the situation, FRI will become more proactive in public education and will provide the public with more information on FRI's activities.

Hiram listened carefully to the CEO's presentation, and he reviewed the FRI staff's specific proposals. Afterwards, he decided to give FRI an opportunity to implement this new perspective in resources management. For the 60 percent of the Estate that already had roads, Hiram stated that he wanted the new Estate plan to provide appropriate guidelines for timber management using the new techniques. On the 40 percent that had not yet been cut, Hiram wanted the plan to provide that timber management would not be practiced except for specific objectives such as wildlife enhancement.

Hiram agreed that he and other members of the public would play an active role in FRI's planning process to help develop better design of all of the Estate's activities and projects.

And thus they worked together happily ever after. . . .

Epilogue: The demand in the United States for all the products produced from wood fiber will continue unabated. Therefore, timber management will necessarily remain a primary focus of forestry activities. However, we foresters must learn to be sensitive to the public's feelings about trees and forests. To do this we must stay in touch, we must remain highly visible, and we must operate in an open, candid, and honest manner. We must come to realize that it is through meaningful public participation, including on-the-ground observation of our activities, that education of the public can be best achieved.

The Forest Service is currently defining New Perspectives for the National Forest System, in which the focus will remain on the system and the emphasis on the multiple-use management concept. However, all professional forest managers must rise to this challenge to forestry and to traditional timber-management practices. We must all begin to devise innovative practices that address today's issues. New philosophies and actions are necessary to help the Forest Service and other forestry organizations manage the nation's forests now and well into the future.

Editor's note: For a closer look at New Perspectives, see page 48 of this magazine.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Forests
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Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Jeansonne, Jerry
Publication:American Forests
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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